Big time rematch ahead! The San Francisco 49ers are going to be traveling to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in what can only be described as a highly-anticipated 2022 NFC Championship reenactment. Adding to the excitement is the fact that both teams appear to be running it back this season as two of the conference’s biggest competitors. Needless to say, this is a pretty crucial game for both teams. But they aren’t alone, as Sunday will feature a number of games with noteworthy playoff ramifications. Even though the Seattle Seahawks are on the razor’s edge of a lost season, they aren’t yet eliminated. Now they just really have to hope they can get some help. How much help will they need? Well let’s take a look with some help from a little magic little box... the ESPN Playoff Machine!
I used win percentage as criteria to determine game outcomes for the remaining NFL season, and in the event of a “tie,” I used the home team to determine the win. Obviously not intended to be literal prediction by any means, but it gives a sense of the how the playing field will develop over the remaining weeks. I am not going to list out the full standings here, but that metric currently puts the Seahawks at 8-9, leaving them on the outside looking in. The Dallas Cowboys would be the highest Wild Card seed at 13-4, which is clearly out of reach. Seattle’s biggest competition for the remaining spots will most likely be the Green Bay Packers (9-8), Minnesota Vikings (9-8), Atlanta Falcons (9-8), New Orleans Saints (9-8), and LA Rams (8-9). Let’s make some picks!
Lions @ Saints — 10AM — FOX — O/U 46
The Detroit Lions may have hit some snags lately, but they still favored by four points over the New Orleans Saints according to DraftKings Sportsbook. At 8-3, the Lions are tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the second best record in the NFC. The NFC North standings are identical to those of the NFC West (save for the abysmal 2-10 Cardinals of the West, relative to to the 4-8 Bears of the north). The Seahawks have the tiebreaker over the Lions, which makes it that much more frustrating that it is unlikely to matter. In fact, I am at the point of just rooting against the teams who may possibly edge Seattle out of the playoffs entirely... so go Detroit. Help our flailing Seahawks once more.
The pick: Over 46 points, Lions win but the Saints cover the spread
Falcons @ Jets — 10AM— FOX — O/U 34
The Atlanta Falcons managed a critical 24-15 win over the New Orleans Saints last week following a three-game losing streak, and they will look to build off of that as two-point favorites against the New York Jets. For playoff positioning, though, we are Jets fans in this one. The Falcons are 5-6, as are the Saints; the NFC South will likely send the division winner with the worst record to the postseason, meaning they will most likely only have one team in the playoffs. According to the above, the Falcons would be that team. Atlanta has been in a rut prior to last week, and their wins haven’t been all that impressive (Houston being the one possible exception). The Jets at least have a few marquee wins (Bills, Philly, even Denver to some extent). I prefer Bijan on Sundays, but I think I’m going with Sauce this time (I am sincerely sorry) DraftKings Sportsbook is favoring Atlanta by two, but I think they are going to drop this one on the road.
The pick: Over 34 points, Jets win and cover the spread
Browns @ Rams — 1:25pm — FOX — O/U 39.5
Who is ready for some Joe Flacco! I kid you not, the Cleveland Browns are one step away from trotting out the veteran signal caller if Dorian Thompson-Robinson can’t clear protocol. That is correct: Flacco has surpassed PJ Walker on the depth chart. The LA Rams can’t quite seem to make up their collective mind; either they look like a better-than-expected team with a hangover, or a bad team that is also dealing with a hangover. Lately, they have been doing enough good things to win their two most recent games and set themselves up to get into playoff contention. DraftKings Sportsbook is favoring them by a little more than a field goal; which sucks for Seahawks fans, and I think it is going to continue to suck... Aaron Donald is going to make whoever is under center wish they had stayed unnder the covers.
The pick: Under 39.5 points, Rams win and generously cover the spread
49ers @ Eagles — 1:25pm — FOX — O/U 46.5
Rematch! This is going to be an exciting one, even if it has almost zero playoff implications for the Seahawks at this point. The Eagle took it to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship last season after Brock Purdy suffered his injury. Now healthy, Purdy is annoyingly efficient once again. Which of course unfortunately is part of the reason that DraftKings Sportsbook is picking the Niners by a field goal. While that gives me a lot of concern when you factor in how good they are on both sides of the ball, I think the fact that this game is happening in Pennsylvania is enough to tilt in favor of the Eagles. Why? Because they are 5-0 at home. That compares favorably to the fact that the 49ers lost three games in a row, with the first two being back-to-back road losses to the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings.
The pick: Over 46.5, Eagles win and cover the spread
Chiefs @ Packers — 5:20pm — NBC — O/U 42
The Kansas City Chiefs should have this in the bag,... which of course means the unexpected will inevitably happen? DraftKings Sportsbook isn’t convinced, as they are taking the defending Super Bowl champions by six points. KC has slowed down a bit on offense this year, but their defense seems to be picking up some of the slack. The Green Bay Packers have had had more downs than ups this season, but to be fair, they are riding a two-game winning streak and will be playing to their home crowd. Still, the Chiefs have only lost three games, and two of those were to division leaders (Eagles, Lions), and the other was to the Denver Broncos. I am still expecting a relatively low-scoring game, and while I think Kansas City could run away with it, I am actually inclined to think it remains tight enough for the Packers to cover the spread.
The pick: Under 42 points, Chiefs win straight up but the Packers cover